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Volleyball: Cajuns Push Cal to the Limit in Four-Set Thriller
HOUSTON – The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball team pushed Pac 12-member Cal to the limit on Saturday in the Rice Adidas Invitational, as the Bears had to work from behind for the 3-1 (20-25, 30-28, 25-23, 25-16) win after an opening-set loss.
The Ragin' Cajuns (4-5) produced 13 kills and hit .261 in capturing in the first set. The Bears (8-1) snuck out two-point wins in the second and third set before riding the surge of a match-high 19 kills in the fourth set.
Louisiana seemingly had Cal cornered throughout the match. Until the Bears pulled away in the fourth set, the largest deficit the Cajuns faced in the match was four points in the first set. The teams swapped the lead nine times and there were 19 ties in the second set. And, Louisiana led the entirety of the third set until the Bears rallied at the end.
Saturday's contest marked the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS
Stacey Reilly (Sr., OH, Houston, Texas) tied her season-high with 14 kills. The Houston native reached double figures for the sixth time in nine outings.
Hali Wisnoskie (Fr., OH, Columbus, Texas) posted eight kills for the second straight match in the tournament. Nia Antoine (Jr., MB, Lafayette, La.) was the Ragin' Cajuns most efficient attacker, landing eight kills on 13 swings.
Setters Jessica Bartczyszyn (Sr., S, Cary, Ill.) and Avery Breaux (Fr., S, Scott, La.) joined forces to run the offense. Breaux handed out 22 assists and Bartczyszyn had 20 helpers.
The trio of Dree'Ana Abram (So., MB, Marshall, Texas), Antoine and Chloe Cordell (Sr., OH, Enid, Okla.) each threw up four blocks in leading Louisiana to a team total of 10.
Libero Sydney Davis extended her string of matches with double digits in digs to six. Her 18 digs were a match-high figure and key to Louisiana outdigging Cal, 61-60.
Louisiana concludes play in the Rice Adidas Invitational on Saturday with a match against Mississippi State at 7:30 p.m. inside Tudor Fieldhouse on the campus of Rice University.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Louisiana erased an 8-4 deficit in the opening set with a four-point spurt that drew a tie. Later, the squad took the lead for good at 14-13 on a block thrown up by Abram and Hanna Rovira. The Ragin' Cajuns then took over the set by getting their next six points off of kills to open a 20-17 advantage.
- The Ragin' Cajuns took advantage of four straight errors by the Bears to climb back after falling behind 4-1 at the start of the second set. There was back-and-forth play the rest of the set with neither team leading by more than two points.
Louisiana used a Wisnoskie kill and Cal attack error to forge a 22-all tie and set the stage for extra points which occurred when a Bears service error evened the score at 24-24. An Abram ace put the Cajuns ahead 25-24, but a subsequent service error kept play going.
The Cajuns fought off set point three times, the last time on a Antoine kill that knotted the score at 28. After a service error, Cal took advantage getting an ace from Antzela Dempi to take the set.
- Louisiana stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the third set. After the Bears rallied to draw a 10-all tie, the Ragin' Cajuns used back-to-back kills from Reilly to reclaim the lead. Leading 23-20 after Reilly's fourth kill of the set, Louisiana seemed destined to take the lead in the match. Five unanswered points – three coming off kills by Dempi – gave the set and momentum to Cal.
- The Bears hit .459 in the fourth set which prevented the Ragin' Cajuns from rallying. Three straight kills, plus a Cajuns attack error after a timeout, stretched Cal's lead to 19-13 and created enough breathing room for the Bears to lock up the match.
- Louisiana's serve receive continues to be strong. The Ragin' Cajuns committed just two reception errors and have had two or fewer the last four matches. The squad has just 26 reception errors through 32 sets this season.
- The Ragin' Cajuns reached double figures in blocks for the fourth time. On the way to piling up 83 block thus far, the team has thrown up at least five in all but one of the nine matches.
- Stacey Reilly's offensive production of 3.5 kills per set during the match raised her season average back to 3.0 kills per set. Last season she became the first Cajun since 2007 to average three-plus kills per set in a season.
- A day after eclipsing 1,000 career digs, Sydney Davis collected 18 against Cal which represents the 53rd time in her career reaching double digits.
- Stacey Reilly continues to inch closer to 1,000 career digs. The Houston native posted six on Saturday vs. Cal to increase her career tally to 984. She's poised to become the first outside hitter in the rally scoring era to accomplish the feat.
- Freshman Avery Breaux saw her first extended time playing at setter at the collegiate level, splitting time with Jessica Bartczyszyn. Breaux's first action at setter came last weekend during the final few rallies of the Mississippi Valley match. The Lafayette-based St. Thomas More HS product had a decorated high school career, helping her school to four state championships and earning MVP honors at the state and local level.
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For more information on Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball, as well as all of Ragin' Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (/ULVolleyball), Twitter (@RaginCajunsVB) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsVB).
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